students at Elmina Junior High School "they (the students) are all truly bright and hardworking. I come in to the school at eight am and the majority of them are sitting quietly already working on their stories. Since they are all members of the book club, they all want to be there and actually volunteered their time as it is technically their holiday. They love reading and writing and are so excited to author their own books! Their stories are amazing – ranging from happy to sad, funny to serious – mostly following the traditional Ghanaian/African style of folktales using the animal kingdom. All their stories are incredible! Especially when you start to consider that for them English is actually a second language. In some cases the spelling and grammar will need a bit of work but their ideas are excellent, very creative and cool."
We would like to thank Beverly for working so hard, her dedicated efforts have made the first part of this project a complete success! Overcoming all odds and burning the midnight oil she was able to help over 20 students publish 34 new books to be added to the Ghana online Library.
At the end of the 2 week book cycle the school in Elmina hosted a Book Celebration. Beverly writes to us about it, "By the grace of God, the power held out (there are frequent blackouts) and we managed to get all thirty-four books printed and ready to present. Quame even got the press involved and a local media outlet will be printing a story about the program on Monday. The kids had a great time. They each received the books they had written, as well as a mineral (soda) and meat pie from Elle to snack on. Many staff members from the school came and made speeches, as did I (see below). It was truly inspirational. There was a definite emphasis on the importance of continuing the program on an on going basis and teachers are already discussing with their administration ways to build time into the school year for creative writing and story telling. So overall a success! "
You can see the latest books here
We thought we would share the speech Beverly gave at the Elmina Junior High School Book Club Celebration.
Speech for the Book Club Celebration
at Elmina Junior High School
By Bev Baller
at Elmina Junior High School
By Bev Baller
Akwaaba – Welcome everyone and Madeasse – thank you for being here with us to celebrate these incredibly talented young men and women. Let’s pause for a second and give them all a hand for their hard work and achievements (Clap). For the last few weeks, I have been blessed with the opportunity to work with these intelligent and hardworking individuals, and for that, I am very grateful.
As you may already know, I am here on behalf on the International School for the Arts, Business, and Technology, a US based non-profit founded by my wonderful cousin, Jonathan Thurston. The premise of the program is to read, create, and share! This represents the on-going cycle of learning the writers undergo wherein the read books, are inspired to create their own, and then share them with their peers. Through the reading of others stories and ideas, writers are again challenged to create and improve their own writing.
We start out by talking about the parts of a good story: the beginning, middle, and end. In the beginning, writers introduce their characters, setting, and introduce the conflict or issue that drives their story. In the middle, writers describe in detail the sequence of events that occurs in regards to the conflict or issue that the story is about. And finally, in the end, writers wrap up their story by resolving the conflict in a meaningful way that accurately represents the characters involved.
For the last two weeks, these amazing students have worked hard to write and illustrate their own books. Please join me in celebrating the hard work they have done by sharing in the reading of their stories. Hopefully, this will inspire you to do some writing of your own. I believe it is critical that this program continues. It gives students a creative voice, and opportunity to share their unique experiences and knowledge within their communities and in communities throughout the world.
Instead of simply reading stories written by other people from other places, students are encouraged to create traditional African stories like those of their ancestors; folk tales that sometimes utilize animals to teach lessons about life, friendship, love, morals, and values. For every class that completes a cycle of this program, they are left with many books that they can use in the educational activities. These stories, like other books, can be used in the classroom for comprehension and writing activities.
In this way, schools here in Africa can empower themselves to overcome challenges such as a lack of resources and texts that students have difficulty relating to. More importantly however, it teaches students that they are powerful and capable of creating and sharing their own knowledge. They are no longer passive receivers of the teacher’s wisdom, but rather, they become equally important and are encouraged to think for themselves and develop the tools they will need to be successful as adults. It is my hope and dream that this group of talented young men and women will continue this program long after I have left and for years to come. I know that with the support of the wonderful staff at this school and my partner Quame, that vision will become a reality.
I want to take this opportunity to present George, an English teacher here and the staff leader of the Elmina club with a digital camera and a web-cam to continue this important work in the fall. I also want to thank him, Charles, and the students for welcoming me into their school and coming to work with me this August in what could have been their summer holidays. You are all wonderful people and I am confident you will go on the do great things – whatever it is you dream of for your life, believe me, you can accomplish it. I will never forget my time and you too, have inspired me, to read, create, and share. Thank you very much – madasse pa pa – for you have touched my heart, spirit, and soul. May God bless you all!